Hamilton County lacks affordable housing as local group works to increase cheaper units

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. - It's known as one of the most affluent areas in central Indiana, but there's a forgotten about population in Hamilton County, people who need affordable housing.

Business is booming, the cities are thriving. But for some people, you can work but not live and play in Hamilton County. Especially people in the hospitality and tourism industry.

"We need to provide options for them if we're not offering public transit we need to provide housing options. There are only so many $10, $15 and $20 an hour jobs that someone's going to drive by before they realize that they can save money if they get a job closer to home," HAND Inc. Executive Director Jennifer Miller said.

HAND Inc. is conducting research to update Hamilton County's housing strategy. They're also leading the charge to address the problem.

The group just completed an affordable housing project near the Monon trail and 106th Street in Carmel. One real estate study from Green Street Advisors showed how deep the need is.

"There's currently a demand in Hamilton county alone for 10,000 affordable units of housing. 10,000. And at our current rate of development assuming that no additional demand is added it's going to take us 100 years to meet that demand," Jennifer said.

Recent college graduates we talked to say they can't afford to rent or buy here.

"The cost of buying a house, the down payment and everything involved up front is a little bit much. There's a big cliff to get there. And with student loans and everything I have to pay off, it's really difficult to get that savings," Alex Hester said.

Bobby Burlas says he had to move back home after college.

"I definitely need some affordable housing, especially around a great area like Hamilton county. I'm living at home with my parents here and saving as much money as I can, but when I'm searching for places it's definitely limited," Burlas said.

Real America, LLC has proposed a $14 million development called Southpointe Village apartments near downtown Fishers. The 70 units would range from $700 to $850 a month.

The workforce housing development would be for people making 60% or below the household median income for Hamilton county.

"Not everyone is just like us. Right? We forget sometimes that our neighbors are having different struggles. Whether they be financial or with family or otherwise," Jennifer said.

The Southpointe Village project still has a couple of approval hurdles to get over including approval from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

HAND Inc. is hosting a housing conference next month and the community is invited to attend. To learn more click here.